THE IF’S, CERTAINTIES AND UNCERTAINTIES OF 2012
2012 is a few days away. It is not coming as a surprise because it announced its arrival almost twelve months ago. It can therefore not be said to be arriving unexpectedly as we had twelve long months waiting for it. What is difficult to tell are the difficulties, certainties and uncertainties the year shall usher in. one assurance though, if the government goes ahead on her promise to remove subsidy early next year, then, they would have succeeded in fast tracking events and your guess would be as mine… everyone to your tent.
One peep into the body of leadership in our body politics shows that the nation has injected into leadership more women, given our determination to meet the gender balance clamored for after the Bengin conference in China. But going by the trend of events, I am yet to see with great effect where the input of these women has produced succor for the common man or woman they are supposed to represent in both national assembly and the executive arm of the government. Women naturally ought to be the mouth piece of the family where and when issues breakdown. What we see today is studied silence on their part as if to mean that either nothing is amiss, therefore it is needless to comment or that they do not have the guts to hold on. The reason is not farfetched though, but that is not our subject matter for this discuss.
Years past, when the world was walking into the waiting the year 2000, hell was almost let loose. People all over the world had hallucination trying to hazard a guess into what the future would look like as we moved from 1999 to the year 2000. It looked so fearsome that at some points it was mooted internationally, that late Saddam Houssin would release the Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) (which the American Government under president George Bush accused the government of Saddam) and the world would collapse in a jiffy. To date, none of the weapon has been seen, located or detonated but the fear of its acquisition fast tracked the demise of the late monarch. The fear of the unknown is the reason the 'if' factor reign in lives of people. Helpless people dwell in these ifs so much that it disrupt their daily plan and affect their loss of contact with realities. In Christendom, the if factor does not come to play as worse circumstance can be prayed about and changed.
The cry for change in our national life is not different. Everything still revolve around the 'if' factor; if the government would restore electricity, if the roads were smooth, if our hospitals had drugs if, legislators would perform their civic duties, if, and many more ifs! But annually, we are certain that we would have the budget as we have just had, all sectors of the economy is usually provided for in the document but what is certain is that 95% of the budget content are never implemented. The only 5% implementation is the salary, personal emolument and such other sundry issues over blown contract awards meant to whet the pockets of meads of departments and other senior 'ogas'! It is certain that even at presentation of the budget, the dream of a supplementary budget will be sent to the National Assembly by November of the year. Question is of what use is a supplementary budget when project monitoring team (if there ever is anyone), has not produced their reports. It is certain that electricity will remain elusive as no one will ever tell the nation the dire need we are in until a snake is found by a transformer at Egbin Thermal Station, and then millions will be spent to kill it. Or despite the heavy rains, we shall be told that that water level of the River Niger is low! So our Electricity Generation and transmition is after all despite high education of our engineers, is dependent on Natural circumstances. We are certain to have death traps called roads all over the country despite the billions of contracts awarded in the past and which will be re-awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works. The same ministry has Federal Road Maintenance Agency spread all over the states and local governments and finally Direct Labour teams all over yet nothing is practically achieved. It is certain that we will have hospitals, environments, etc unattended but budgeted for. But we will also have political players and political issues which will never suffer any lack of fund. In truth, the only sector which like givers never lack is Politics. Givers never lack is the saying in religious parlance, but in politics, there has been no lack since 1999. All the ruling party PDP need is dream an idea and Nairally, it is done.
Now the big issue. The uncertainties of 2012. The year 2012 promises to be a surprise and shock to many. As of the time of filing this material, the president has maintained that Fuel Subsidy will go. The National Assembly and organized labour have said that it is a needless venture and men and women of God have been lending their ears and asking the president to let the proponents wear human face. All seem to be falling on deaf ears even as the like of Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari, the ACN and many others are proposing alternatives. We once had a General in the Name of IBB who told Nigerians that SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) had no alternative in 1986 when he wanted the nation to accept the IMF (International Monetary Fund) loan. I remember Professor Sam Aluko, the eminent economist tell the military ruler then that there is nothing in the economy without alternative. At the end of the day, the option was roundly dumped. The end product of dumping of the IMF is the reawakening in our current dress code. Today, even Japanese, American, English, French etc wear Nigerian textile prints and fashion.
GEJ has remained resolute in his desire to pour acid through our throat. Obasanjo tried it on the eve of his departure from Aso Rock and it took the wisdom of late President Yar'adua to throw the view away. What is in this opinion of the president that he has refused wise counsel?I am yet to understand. Now to the uncertainties which would behold 2012, the signs are emerging already. First the president has for once remained resolved on the Fuel Subsidy Removal. He has at least confirmed to every doubting Thomas' that subsidy removal is the only choice for a better Nigeria like IBB had SAP. Well for starter, the University Staffs have downed tools in protest for a ten years long agreement gone awry. Against all odds, this will bring the government to its knees. Beside my taking sides with them, I dare say that with the strike, is the production of restive youths from all the institutions affected. For once let it be told that if the leadership which passed through these universities cannot keep her part of the promise in more than ten years, then it has no moral reason to call the striking teachers go table for yet another discussion as the result would remain a foreseen failure. The government was not sincere, has never been sincere and cannot be trusted to be sincere based on her past record of broken tongues.
The uncertainties here are that restive undergraduates again are unsure of year of graduation and therefore are angry. These are all moving to join the army of unemployed but informed youths in cluster cities of Lagos, Benin City, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Abuja to mention a few. This is Volcano waiting to erupt. The development in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria even in Britain and United States are sufficient eye openers to our failing leaders that the centre can no longer hold as things are falling apart. In the past, it was easy to assume that Nigerian are gullible people. Not anymore. The other day, youths in the cloak of militants closed the Lokoja axis of the Niger Bridge. Simultaneously, youths in Lagos and Ibadan went on rampage protesting the misrule of government. These are but signs of the time. If security briefs are anything to go by, it ought be certain to our leaders that things are no longer at ease.
Finally, with the treats on every side, opposition kicking along with very dissatisfied followership I pray we do not say good bye Nigeria in the year 2012. All these are but some of the Ifs, Certainties and uncertainties come 2012. A stitch in time saves nine.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Port Harcourt